Wednesday, 31 May 2017

The Killing Of A Military Officer In The Central Region Who Was Mistaken For An Armed Robber

A few months ago, the Ghana Police Service issued a cautioning statement through its Director of Public Affairs, Superintendent Cephas Arthur, to individuals and groups who take the law into their own hands by acting as accusers, jury and judge and punish all alleged criminals on the spot, to desist from the barbaric acts.

The caution came in the wake of a video footage that became viral on social media revealing the stripping and subsequent stoning of a lady alleged to be a thief at the Kejetia Market in Kumasi.

Mob justice (sometimes called “Jungle Justice or Instant Justice”), is defined by online Wikipedia as an extrajudicial punishment by an informal group.

It is most often used to characterize informal public executions by a mob in order to punish an alleged transgressor.

This type of justice is, while not an everyday occurrence, regrettably common in Ghana.

Surprisingly, the illegality is more common in urban areas where law enforcement is deemed to be more visible and effective.

At first glance, it is easy for most people to see why mob justice is wrong: it violates a person’s right to a fair trial which is duly listed in Article 10 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and right to be innocent until proven guilty.

Without a trial in an official court of law, it is all too easy to hurt or kill a person without proof of their guilt.

Mob justice perpetuates a cycle of violence, creates a culture of fear, and rejects personal accountability for violent acts that are committed in the name of justice.

Furthermore, in most circumstances, the actual accused escapes the scene and the instant cruelty is meted out on an innocent individual.

A perfect example is what occurred yesterday when a mob set on a military officer and without recourse to the law lynched him thinking that he was an armed robber.

The term ‘mob justice’ is even problematic because there is no justice involved in any sense.

Too often, innocent people are murdered and severely assaulted in these attacks after being falsely accused.

“Mob Justice” is a gross act of Injustice. Indeed, it is a criminal act punishable under the Laws of the land as set out in the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana.

Thus, it is a deviation from legitimate social norms and a violation of all the national and international conventions that guarantee the rights to life and fair justice to every human being.

There have been several reports of mob justice being meted out on suspected criminals and even suspected same sex partners.

As we condemn the act of mob justice, it is important to understand the social climate, through which it is being propagated.

The illegality, to some school of thought, is gaining rapid recognition due to the fact that urbanization has become brisk and so has migration.

They pointed out that lynching or "necklacing" as South Africans call it; occur more frequently in poor and informal settlements.

Mob justice is a result of a severe lack of faith in local police forces and judicial systems.

Many Ghanaians have based the argument of instant justice on the mistrust and slow nature of our police and justice systems.

True as this may be, we should not accept that the answer to this is instant justice which sometimes leads to the lynching of innocent people.

This is an unfortunately common situation in Ghana, where no one really wins and justice is never served.

Mostly, issues of these alleged thieves and other criminals remain in court for a very long time.

Sometimes, the accused gets a legal counsel and even wins the case in the long run.

To such victims of injustice, the accused should have been dealt with on the spot.

This kind of feeling about the justice system forces individuals to lose faith in the Police and the Judiciary to be able to hand them justice.

In order to truly combat mob justice, one has to combat the blatant ineffectiveness of local and regional authorities.

Effectiveness of the Rule of Law is solely dependent on the trust and confidence of the people in the legitimacy of these institutions.

Mob justice is a gross act of criminality punishable under the 1992 constitution of the republic of Ghana.

Because of the variety of social factors that contribute to mob justice, as well as a pervasive mentality that it is the only way to bring people to justice, it is a challenge fighting it.

Spreading awareness of human rights and the need to allow the system to take care of alleged criminals is one sure way of sensitising the populace to see what makes mob justice wrong.

The sensitisation can only work if all stakeholders such as the NCCE, CHRAJ, Department of Social Welfare and others put the necessary measures in place to aid the justice delivery system to become a force to reckon with when crime is committed.

The Police and Judiciary should use the opportunity to deal with these miscreants of the law to serve as deterrent to others with the intention of replicating this barbarism in the near future.

Once we have ascribed to democracy, we must accept the Rule of Law as well because there is no democracy without the Rule of Law. 

As we continue to say that justice delayed is justice denied, let us also be conscious of the fact that justice rushed is justice crushed.

BY: KPEDATOR ELORM TEACHER, TOKUROANO D/A PRIMARY ‘A’- KRACHI EAST DISTRICT

The Essence of the Ramadan Fast as Muslims enter the Holy Month

It is merely by the grace of Allah that Muslims are currently experiencing yet another Ramadan; a month of limitless blessings.

Fasting in the month of Ramadan is one of the pillars of Islam and Muslims are obliged to observe it.

Fasting is basically an act of willing abstention from all food, drink, or both, for a period of time.

In Suratul Baqara Holy Quran Chapter 2 verse 184 Allah says "O ye who believe! fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may become righteous.

God states that fasting is made obligatory in this month not to simply remain hungry from morning till the evening but so that righteousness is adopted.

A person who keeps fast should always have it in mind that fasting does not simply signify remaining hungry.

Rather such a person should engage in remembrance of God so that he can attain devotion to God and is able to forsake worldly desires. That is reciting the attributes of God at all times.

Fasting signifies that man gives up one kind of bread, which is for physical sustenance and takes the other kind of bread which is a source of contentment for the soul.

People who fast only for the sake of God and not as a mere ritual should stay engaged in hamd (glorification of Allah) tasbih (saying SubhanAllah) and tahlil (saying la ilaha illa Allah/there is no god but Allah) to have the other kind of sustenance.

Indeed, true believers should engage in hamd and tasbih during Ramadan more than before and raise their standard of worship in order to attain the beneficence of the sacred month.

The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said that fasting is a shield and it is a strong fortress against fire.

However, this is so when everything man does is for the sake of God and his night and day is spent in remembrance of God and he treads the path of righteousness.

Muslims should aim for adopting righteousness permanently and not fasting on a superficial level merely to remain hungry and thirsty.

Attainment of righteousness should be ever present in the mind every day when keeping fast in the morning and when breaking fast in the evening. We should not respond in kind to anyone being aggressive to us.

Rather, we should remain silent and simply tell them that we are fasting.

We should be mindful that there is no esteem in showing someone down and retorting back to them, rather it is in gaining pleasure of God. We should be mindful as to who is honoured by God.

Suratul Hujurat, Holy Quran chapter 49 verse 14 says "O mankind, we have created you from a male and a female. We have made you tribes and sub-tribes that you may recognize one another.

Verily, most honourable among you in the sight of Allah is the righteous among you.

Surely, Allah is All-Aware. Almighty Allah states that during Ramadan He comes very close to man so that man may seek as much beneficence as he can.

This spiritual camp lasts one month and should be fully availed of.

During this month acts of virtue for the sake of God reap manifold reward as compared to ordinary days.

It is very crucial for Muslims to rise, and attain true insight and perception of giving precedence to faith over worldly matters during this month.

These are the thought processes which will avail true benefit of Ramadan.

Fasting is not only a religious obligation but has many health benefits.

Scientifically fasting has proven very essential for the human body based on a large body of research.

According to Mark Mattson, senior investigator for the National Institute on Aging, part of the US National Institutes of Health, fasting has been shown to improve bio-markers of disease, reduce oxidative stress and preserve learning and memory functioning.

He investigated the health benefits of intermittent fasting on the cardiovascular system and brain in rodents, and has called for “well-controlled human studies” in people “across a range of body mass indexes” (J Nutr Biochem 2005;16:129–37).

Research suggests fasting reduces the risk of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, insulin resistance, immune disorders, and more generally, the slowing of the ageing process, and the potential to increase maximum life span.

Fasting promotes elimination of toxins from the body, and reduces blood sugar.

May The Almighty Allah out of His mercy see them through as they observe this fasting. Ramadan Mubarak To all Muslims.

BY: NASIRA AWAGAH, A JOURNALIST

Potential Impact Of President Akufo-Addo’s Tour Of African Countries On Ghana

The 6th of March, 2017 marked exactly 60 years since Ghana attained independence from British colonial rule. Indeed, 60 years in the life of a nation calls for sober reflection on her socio-economic development and trajectories. There is no gain-saying that Ghana's political history after independence has been characterised by economic fortunes and misfortunes. In spite of the challenges confronting us as a nation, it was deemed necessary to celebrate 60 years of nationhood which was graced by some leaders from the sub-region. Barely two months after the 60th anniversary celebration, President Akufo-Addo embarked on visits to neighbouring West African countries. Some social commentators have expressed concerns about the rationale for the President’s visits and the economic significance to the nation. One could readily recount about four distinct and essential benefits of the President’s foreign trips to the Ghanaian economy.

First, as tradition demands, it is imperative to reciprocate the kind gesture of one's neighbours. To this end, it is important for the President, to visit these African leaders to thank them for taking time off their busy national schedules to grace Ghana’s 60th independence anniversary and also formally introduce himself as the current Ghanaian Head of State.

Secondly, the President’s visit would help strengthen ties between Ghana and her neighbours. His physical presence in the neighbouring African countries would create the enabling environment for discussions on matters of mutual bilateral importance. In countries where international relations are under siege or on the verge of collapse, the visit would afford the leaders the opportunity to revive and strengthen those relations. The third benefit is that, the leading marketer of the Ghanaian economy to foreign investors is the President.

As a result, the visits to the neighbouring African countries present an opportunity for the Ghanaian leader to showcase Ghana’s investment opportunities and the strategic position of the country as a preferred destination for investors. Organising business fora during the visits would make it possible for investors to ask pertinent questions; and to receive cogent responses on the investment climate in Ghana. In 2017, the World Bank released statistics on the ease of doing business in 190 economies across the globe. Ghana ranked 108th in the world, 11th in Africa, and 1st in West Africa with regards to the ease of doing business. This implies the necessary fundamental policies have been formulated to facilitate business transactions in the country.

Perhaps, what requires constant improvement is the provision of infrastructural facilities such as good roads, adequate electricity and water supply to the nook and cranny of this country to ensure equitable distribution of companies and jobs to various areas in the economy.

Finally, President Akufo-Addo during interactions with Ghanaians in those African countries will be in position to update them on the country’s socio-economic developments and other government policies. Ghanaians resident in neighbouring African countries may also offer ideas useful to the advancement of the nation’s economic cause. This plays a monumental role in their resolve to remit regularly, and to make a firm decision on returning home to contribute to national progress.

Indeed, knowledge and wisdom are not the preserve of an individual or a government; together, we can build a better Ghana.

BY: EBENEZER M. ASHLEY (PHD). LEAD CONSULTANT / CEO EBEN CONSULTANCY FELLOW CHARTERED ECONOMIST & COUNCIL MEMBER, INSTITUTE OF CERTIFIED ECONOMISTS OF GHANA, ICEG.

Friday, 26 May 2017

AU Day Within The Context Of The Challenges Facing The African Continent

Having existed for years as a continental body, the African Union has not been able to achieve the continental unity it wishes to attain. When its predecessor, the OAU, was formed in 1963, little did its leaders anticipate the myriad of problems it was likely to face as a body. What was uppermost on their minds was the total and quick emancipation of African States that were still under the yoke of colonialism. Today, the problems facing the continent include ethnic and cross border conflicts, refugee problems as well as pervasive hunger and starvation. Other problems are the scourge of AIDS and the incessant military incursion in governance.

Hence, it came as no surprise when in 2002 the OAU was replaced by the African Union with a more focused goal of propelling African states towards peace and prosperity as the basis for achieving the ultimate goal of political and economic integration of its member states. A major challenge confronting the AU and its leaders is how to respond to the creation of jobs as well as livelihood aspirations of Africa’s youth who account for three-quarters of the continent’s labour force. Another major challenge facing the African Union is funding. Programme costs for key institutions such as the Pan African Parliament, the Human Rights Commission and the Anti-Corruption Board are being paid for by donors. Again, the problem of corruption on the continent is real. What is more, the African continent has seen a rise in the threat of extremist groups such as Boko Haram in Nigeria and Cameroon and al-Shabaab in East Africa. These are challenges that must be overcome without delay. One other important challenge to address is dealing with corruption and the illicit flow of money from Africa.The continent possesses great wealth in its resources, but little of this wealth is used in the development of the continent. It has been estimated that Africa is losing close to $50bn annually with a large portion of this coming from the extractive industries such as oil and gas exploration.

Again, the AU would have to adopt an appropriate strategy to manage international co-operation in an era of globalisation and in a changing world order; it would need to come up with a relevant and practical conceptualisation of innovative and transformative partnership which its member states would certainly need to complement their national development efforts.

For many people on the continent, African Union Day is celebrated as a holiday but without much significance to them. This shows that the time has come for the African continent to sit up and sensitise its people to the essence of the aspirations of the continent. Africa appears to be better off when it comes to maintaining the status quo as a colonial legacy rather than taking positive radical steps to pursue the interest of its people.

Since the existence of the AU is crucial in world politics, much greater effort is needed to show its relevance and ensure that the continent has a stronger voice in the global arena rather than a mere whisper drowned out by other stronger players. The relevance of Africa must be felt in realistic terms by the world, so the earlier its leaders come together to solve its problems the better it will be for the continent.

BY: KOFI AMPONSAH-BEDIAKO, HEAD OF PUBLIC RELATIONS, GHANA STANDARDS AUTHORITY, ACCRA.

International Day To End Obstetric Fistula


Obstetric fistula is a child birth injury resulting largely from prolonged obstructed labour in a setting where access to emergency obstetric care is limited. Consequently a hole develops between the birth canal and the bladder or between the birth canal and the rectum or both.The patient becomes incontinent of urine or faeces or both. Due to the constant odour of urine and faeces, they are treated at arm’s length and suffer immense social abandonment, stigmatization and ostracism. This situation is further worsened by cultural beliefs regarding the cause of obstructed labour and fistula.

The first hospital for treating obstetric fistula was set up in New York City in May 1855. Forty years later, the hospital was closed down when it was eradicated. In its place today stands the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. In 1974, the world’s second hospital dedicated to obstetric fistula was started in Ethiopia. Forty-three years down the line, fistula is far from being eradicated in Ethiopia and indeed in Sub-Sahara Africa and Asia. Despite repairing nearly 30 thousand women over the last 30 years, Nigeria still has the highest burden of obstetric fistula in the world.

What is Sub-Saharan Africa missing in the narrative to end obstetric fistula?

In Ghana, the programmatic battle against fistula coincided with the UNFPA global campaign to end obstetric fistula launched in 2005. Ten years after the launch, a report on the burden of obstetric fistula in Ghana was produced. In the burden report 1,300 new cases of obstetric fistula develop each year. Out of this figure, about 200 fistula repairs are carried out each year. The obvious question is, where are the remaining 1,100 fistula cases?

To give meaning to Ghana’s campaign to end obstetric fistula, it is incumbent on all to help identify women living with obstetric fistula especially in the rural areas. Once identified, every effort should be made to get these women and girls to the hospitals for cure.

The culture of blaming the patients for their predicament should be stopped. The regional houses of chiefs have a role to play in refining the cultural interpretations given to obstructed labour. Mass education on obstetric fistula is key. Leprosy, Tuberculosis and HIV were stigmatized in the past. With education, many came out to be treated. Leprosy has been eliminated. Tuberculosis and HIV are under control. De-stigmatizing obstetric fistula will encourage more women suffering from the disease to come out for treatment.

The District Assemblies should join the campaign as was done for Guinea worm eradication, incentive packages can be considered for finding and reporting obstetric fistula cases. If developed countries have eliminated obstetric fistula, there is hope that this can be achieved if we identify the missing links in our elimination narrative. As we join the world to bring hope, healing and dignity to all women suffering from obstetric fistula, let us also put our shoulders to the wheel to find and bring those suffering from obstetric fistula for treatment. That should be the clarion anytime we join the global community to observe the international day to end obstetric fistula.

BY: DR.GABRIEL GANYAGLO. OBSTETRICIAN GYNAECOLOGIST, KORLE-BU TEACHING HOSPITAL.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Understanding the Protracted Conflict Between Alavanyo and Nkonya

It is very heart-breaking that at a time when more resources are needed for socio-economic development in various parts of the country, some of these resources are being used to enforce and maintain peace in some conflict zones.

One of such conflict areas is Alavanyo-Nkonya which over the weekend witnessed the death of a middle age woman. 

History has it that the Alavanyos migrated from Saviefe through Akrofu to Sovie, near Kpando, to settle on land allocated to them by Nkonya in about 1840.

Initially, they were good neighbours, but later on became antagonistic towards each other because of differences over the ownership of land.

This conflict has lasted for close to one hundred years. On the causes of the conflict, one school of thought thinks that diversity of groups in society, in this case ethnic identities, are more prone to conflict.

This position is, however, unacceptable because other multiple entities have existed for centuries without threat of violence.

A fundamental cause of the conflict centres on people’s inability to get access to a basic need such as land for farming.

This is what has become a recipe for violence. Hence, the conflict is primarily caused by a dispute over land, a basic human need which finds its drive for violence in the differences of the two ethnic groups.

Indeed, the conflict remains latent until triggered by the activities of individuals such as unprovoked killings, unauthorised burning and cutting of timber and also farming on other people’s lands, among others, as well as the negative perceptions and opinions formed by each group of people about the other.

The consequences of the protracted conflict between Nkonya and Alavanyo include a situation of hopelessness and uncertainty of physical security, needless killings, destruction of properties, institutional deformity and destruction of communication channels that could have been used for dispute resolution.

For all these reasons, the residents of the Alavanyo-Nkonya area have been living in fear and mutual suspicion with each other for a very long time.

With regard to the persistence of the conflict, it must be acknowledged that although many efforts have been made at resolving it, the issue continues to persist because apart from non-execution of the various judgments of the courts on land ownership in the area there is lack of punitive measures against those who violate the law.

The Alavanyo-Nkonya conflict cannot be allowed to continue forever.

The Minister for the Interior, Ambrose Dery has announced government’s preparedness to resolve the conflict by initiating a dispute resolution mechanism for peace to prevail in the area.

According to him, his outfit is working closely with the Regional Security Council and National House of Chiefs to find an amicable solution to the almost a century old conflict that has led to many deaths.

It is good that the Ministry for the Interior has been pragmatic in terms of provision of security for the area.

What the country needs today is an acceptable, satisfactory, realistic and comprehensive solution to the age-long conflict.

In attempting to resolve the problem, all contributory factors, particularly the fundamental issues involved, must be taken into consideration to ensure the attainment of everlasting peace.

This is very necessary because any attempt at resolving the issue without addressing the fundamental factors relating to the conflict will at best only succeed temporarily even though a permanent solution is what is needed.

BY KOFI AMPONSAH-BEDIAKO, HEAD OF PUBLIC RELATIONS, GHANA STANDARDS AUTHORITY

The role of technical and vocational education and training in Ghana’s development

The labour market in the 21st Century has become more specialised while economies demand higher levels of skill. This has compelled businesses and governments globally to increase their investments in technical and vocational training to secure its future. Some of the initiatives, notably from government perspective, include increased public funding in training organisations and subsidised apprenticeship or traineeship for businesses.

A report issued by the British Institute of Public Policy Research in recent years indicated that demand for medium-skilled jobs requiring technical and vocational qualifications would increase in the next 10 years. The underlying objective of vocational and technical education at the basic and secondary levels is to make vocational and technical training skills available to young men and women to facilitate their fulfillment of Ghana’s technical manpower needs, including self-employment in the fields of agriculture, business and industry.

Available statistics from the Ghana Education Service (GES) on pre-tertiary technical and vocational institutions in Ghana revealed the establishment of about 160 public technical and vocational institutions, including 22 technical institutes. Most technical and vocational education and training practitioners are in the informal sector of the Ghanaian economy. The Asian Tigers, including Malaysia, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore have developed sound policies in technical and vocational training. This has resulted in the supply of more highly-skilled labour force in those countries.

Emerging economies such as Ghana would have to emulate the sterling examples of the Asian Tigers in the area of technical and vocational training. Sound investment in technical and vocational education and training would yield the desired dividend. It would help train more people to meet the manpower needs of the country and possibly, have surplus to export.

Indeed, Ghana needs skilled labour force to maintain her houses, bridges, railroads or railways, and roads. To address to the growing technical skills requirement of the country, the Ghana Skills Development Initiative was founded. The initiative, a German Government assisted project being implemented in co-operation with the Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training aims at building capacity in the informal sector of the Ghanaian economy, Ghana's informal sector is noted for employing about 90 per cent of the active labour force.

If Ghana is to derive maximum benefits from technical and vocational training, there should be a change in attitude towards it. For instance an erroneous impression that students who often enrol in technical and vocational programmes are academically weak should be discarded. The situation is exacerbated further by some parents who do not subscribe to their wards’ decision to pursue careers in technical and vocational training. Excessive reliance on theory rather than practice due to lack of practical equipment in many institutions is not good for the promotion of technical and vocational training in developing economies, including Ghana.

The situation where students enrolled in some vocational training programmes do not read and take national examinations in English and mathematic should be reviewed. This is because it affects their smooth transition from one level of the academic ladder to the other. The 21st century is characterised by advanced technological standards. Use of sophisticated technical and vocational tools is the order of the day.

To this end, training of individuals in TVET should be based on scientific approach in addition to modern equipment practical instruction. Indeed, the continuous development of the technical and vocational education and training sector is very paramount. This is because availability of jobs in the “non-technical” sector of the Ghanaian economy is either non-existent or very scarce while the reverse is true in the case of the TVET sector. This presents the Government with an opportunity to encourage more individuals into technical and vocational education and training to equitably distribute the nation’s human capital among the various sectors to ensure increased productivity.

The Government should actively engage industries and graduates to ensure the effective absorption of technical and vocational graduates into the job market.

BY: DR. EBENEZER M. ASHLEY, LEAD CONSULTANT / CEO EBEN CONSULTANCY FELLOW & COUNCIL MEMBER, INSTITUTE OF CERTIFIED ECONOMISTS OF GHANA (ICEG). 
TEL: 233 (0)507213648 CELL: 233 (0)543 211842.

Ghana: Government’s strategy to address illegal mining once and for all

The problem of illegal mining or “galamsey” has caused so much havoc in Ghana that the government is now determined to deal with it once and for all. As has been stated over and over again, the government is not against mining activities as long as they are carried out in a legal and sustainable manner. If mining is carried out in a legal and sustainable manner, it not only creates substantial wealth to facilitate the socio-economic development of the country but also ensures that there is appropriate reclamation of land as well as preservation of the environment.

On the other hand, illegal mining or “galamsey” results in pollution and destruction of water bodies, creation of death traps in form of uncovered pits, degradation of the environment and destruction of farmlands. Other destructive effects are the devastating impact of cyanide and other harmful chemicals used by the illegal miners. These harmful chemicals seep deep into the soil and affect the plant we grow as food. When such food is eaten, they adversely affect the health consumers.

Another disastrous effect from illegal mining activities is the loss of revenue to the country. In 2016, for example, Ghana lost $2.3 billion through illegal mining activities. The losses represent royalties and taxes which the illegal miners did not pay to the state. The negative effects of illegal mining in the country calls for drastic measures aimed at addressing the menace.

To effectively deal with the issue and manage the menace, the government has instituted a five-year programme to address it once and for all. The programme known as Multi-lateral Mining Integrated Project is aimed at solving the “galamsey” menace.

Under this project, a number of measures are to be rolled-out to effectively address the problem. The measures are: first, creation of sustained awareness of the devastating effect of the activities of illegal miners. Second, ensuring strict enforcement of existing regulations in the mining sector and thirdly, offering alternative livelihoods for people currently engaged in illegal mining by organising them into co-operatives. The co-operatives will be engaged in legally controlled and properly regulated application of technology and enforcement of the law.


The government’s determination to clamp down on illegal mining is not xenophobic attack on foreign nationals. Rather it is a national commitment to protect the integrity of the environment and make life better for all. All illegal miners are, therefore, expected to take advantage of the project so as to work in groups in approved designated mining sites. The designated mining sites will have in place a central processing plant for the mined ore to be processed for a fee.

This will ensure proper monitoring and supervision of mining activities in the country. If this is done, the expected royalties and taxes will be paid to the state and land reclamation will also be carried out. In fact, land reclamation and greening of the environment can also be a source of income for those to be engaged in them while water bodies will be preserved for present and future generation.

The fight against “galamsey” is a tough one. It must be won at all costs in the interest of the nation no matter what.

BY KOFI AMPONSAH-BEDIAKO, HEAD OF PUBLIC RELATIONS, GHANA STANDARDS AUTHORITY, ACCRA.

The importance of 2017 National Policy Summit

Development Policy interventions have been part of nation building since time immemorial. Governments have over the years committed significant resources to support development interventions designed to improve the welfare of the people. When such interventions are well planned with the appropriate of policies, they are expected to yield desired social and economic development outcomes. One essential ingredient towards fruitful development intervention is dialogue. Promoting dialogue towards achieving consensus is considered an essential pre-requisite for success in any development effort.

It is in the light of these that the ongoing National Policy Summit initiated by the Ministry of Information to provide a platform for Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to engage stakeholders in their operations is, considered laudable. According to the organisers, the purpose of the National Policy Summit is to regularly inform the public on detailed government strategies for revamping the economy for sustained growth. Such summit offers the platform for dialogue and is worthwhile towards effective public service delivery. It will in the long run ensure that policies formulated are achieved in relation to growth and development targets. The two-day Summit is expected to help government elicit feedback to shape its policies and programmes.

The event provides targeted information to meet the needs of specific stakeholders and will help interrogate policies and programmes whiles fostering partnership between government and the private sector in the areas of finance, agriculture, trade and industry, energy, infrastructure and poverty eradication among others. It is important to note that countries like China, Singapore, Sri Lanka among others that have chalked tremendous success in national development in recent times have from time to time critically offered platforms for such policies to be openly discussed and critiqued. The responsibility lies on all well-meaning Ghanaians to support such development efforts that cut across political party lines to ensure long term solutions to Ghana’s economic challenges. The intention of the Ministry of Information to ensure that this initiative becomes a regular programme is heartwarming and should be embraced by all.

Addressing participants at the opening of the Policy Summit in Accra Vice President Dr Mahamadu Bawumia indicated that government will host a port efficiency conference to learn best practices from countries in Africa and beyond to ease the stress of doing business in Ghana. According to the organizers of the summit, the programme will also engage Independent Power Producers interested in government’s alternative energy programmes as well as the Bulk Distributing Companies wanting to understand some of the new policies.

These are indications that the summit will tap ideas from both local and international sources as a recipe for sustainable development. The Ministry of Information deserves commendation for this initiative tailored at consensus building which is important in today's interconnected society. This is because many problems exist that affect diverse groups of people with different interests. As problems mount, organizations that deal with society's problems come to rely on each other for help. Consensus-building allow a variety of people to make input into decision-making rather than leaving controversial decisions up to government representatives or experts.

Opening up governance through summits like this is therefore laudable and should not be a nine days' wonder.

BY DAVID OWUSU-AMOAH HEAD OF RESEARCH, INFORMATION SERVICES DEPARTMENT.

Placing value on Technical and Vocational Education

President Akuffo-Addo in a speech and prize-giving day at Mafe-Kumase in the Volta Region stated that technical education is crucial for socio-economic development. This is one fact that cannot be glossed over or swept under the carpet. It is through the development of sound technical and vocational educational skills that the country’s abundant resources can be fully harnessed and utilised for the country's advancement. Education is meant to broaden the horizon of people and sharpen their skills for socio-economic and political development. However, it is clear from observation that the general thinking is skewed towards the generality of grammar education bequeathed to us by the colonial masters several years ago.

It is unfortunate that we are unable to fix problems relating to technical requirements in our industries, a problem that comes about as a result of inadequate facilities for practical work in technical and vocational institutions. There is, therefore, the need to support practical work to wholly develop the employable skills of every school child in the country.

In the words of President Akuffo-Addo, “We need skilled people to modernise our country, and every child has a talent they must bring out for that purpose.” This statement is very important because our natural talents are not only found in the grammar type of education but also in the technical and vocational areas of life which offer more employment opportunities.

A related issue here is the view of many experts that our educational system tends to place less emphasis on the development of technical and vocational skills. Such neglect is what principally accounts for the high rate of unemployment in various sectors of the economy. Technical skills should be developed in every field so as to be able to encourage self-employment and entrepreneurship initiatives.

Without the development of technical and vocational skills, we may end up promoting the import business in the country, a situation that is not healthy for self-dependence and economic development. In the light of this, the country needs to encourage practical work in technical and vocational education. This explains why President Akufo-Addo pledged to provide a workshop complex for the Mafe-Kumase Senior High Technical School to transform the institution.

Technical and vocational training must be given the needed proportion of emphasis alongside general education training. This will ensure that the blend of all skills are utilised to the maximum for rapid economic development in line with the national aspirations. Indeed, employers in Ghana admit that looking for people with technical skills for industry is very difficult because certain specific technical skills are non-existent.

Let us give technical and vocational skills of various dimensions the needed support for a more, productive glorious future for the country.

By Kofi Amponsah-Bediako, Head of Public Relations, Ghana Standards Authority.

Ghana: The ban on drumming and noise-making

The Ga Traditional Council on May 8, 2017 placed a ban on drumming and noise-making as part of preparations towards 2017 Homowo. History has it that the Ga-Dangme people suffered starvation during their migration to their present settlement. As a result of this, they initiated an annual traditional rite to observe absolute silence for the gods and ancestors of the Ga State to bless the land with bumper harvest ahead of the celebration of the festival. It is expected that all the stakeholders will play their roles in ensuring that the one month ban period will be devoid of confusion and confrontation.

Unfortunately, the conflict bordering on religious intolerance has become an annual ritual during the one month ban on drumming and noise-making in Accra. This has in recent times led to serious clashes between operators of night clubs, drinking bars, shops selling musical instruments, church groups among others and some youth who think such facilities generate excessive noise. When the situation gets out of hand, it results in gross violations and flagrant abuse of human rights, loss of property and in some cases, death.

Unfortunately, religious groups are seen as the worst culprit of these noise-makers, leading to tension between them and the traditionalists. Some have argued that with the constitutional provisions which guarantee the freedom of worship, the religious groups see the ban on drumming and noise-making as an infringement on their unalienable fundamental human rights and therefore disregard it with contempt. They further contend that the observance of the ban is contrary to their belief. Thus, obeying the ban will mean compromising on their faith and biblical teachings. Others have also argued that the traditional rulers are the custodians of the land and have every right to enforce silence at a particular time of the year in accordance with customs and traditions and this should be respected.

It is true that Accra, the Capital city, is a melting pot of diverse origins and cultures where people co-exist with one another. But it is also true that Accra cannot be said to be no man’s land. This calls for rules of mutual tolerance on the part of all for the common good of society. Strangely enough, in other traditional jurisdictions of the country, once a ban is imposed, people obey it without questioning, but when it comes to drumming and noise-making in Accra, hell breaks loose! This does not augur well for peace and development of the capital Accra. Every culture has its uniqueness. And respect for each other’s culture must be mutual and is a sign of maturity and tolerance for peaceful co-existence in any harmonious society.

Let us not forget that every festive occasion of any group of people in the country is an opportunity for them to retell their history to the younger generations. Ghana is blessed with many festivals which are held yearly in various parts of the country and celebrations of such festivals should be things that unite us more than divide us. It is in this regard that traditional areas which often place ban on drumming and noise-making should have constructive engagement with key interest groups to maintain the peace.

In enforcing the ban, the traditionalists should not take the law into their own hands to mete out instant justice to offenders by either seizing or vandalizing property. The enforcement of the ban on drumming in the Ga Traditional area which has in recent years led to confrontation and confusion with some youth arrogating to themselves the duties and functions of the security agencies should be discouraged. Offenders who violate the ban should be dealt with according to the law and any infractions of the law should be reported to the Task Force on Nuisance Control and the law enforcement agencies mandated to monitor and ensure compliance.

There is the need for stakeholders – particularly Police, Churches, Events organizers, Traditional rulers, Opinion leaders, the media, Greater Accra Regional Coordinating Council and Accra Metropolitan Assembly to work towards ensuring peace and tranquility during the period of the ban on drumming and noise-making in the Accra Metropolis.

Let there be peace in Accra this time round.

By George Oko Mensah, a Freelance Journalist.